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‘16,400km waterways lost due to negligence’

  • Published at 07:10 pm June 23rd, 2019
Photo: Syed Zakir Hossain

The total river routes of the country were 24,000  before 1960

Bangladesh has lost a total of 16,400 kilometers of waterways due to negligence and lack of supervision, State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury has informed the parliament.

“The total river routes of the country were 24,000 kilometres before 1960. But it has decreased to 6,000 kilometres gradually due to negligence and lack of proper plans to protect the rivers,” the minister said, replying to a starred question from treasury bench lawmaker M Abdul Latif, yesterday.

The state minister also said change of nature, among other reasons, is behind the shrinking of river ways in the country, reports BSS.

Dredging in 178 rivers underway

The state minister also informed the House that the dredging work of 10,000 kilometres of 178 rivers is underway across the country.

About 1,600 kilometres of rivers have been dredged, raising the total river routes to 7,600km, from 6,000 km in the last 10 years, he said.

Besides, coordinated steps are being taken through forming a taskforce and a river commission, and holding inter-ministerial meetings to protect the country’s rivers from pollution and save them from illegal occupiers. 

Apart from forestation and setting up of eco-parks and walkways on the recovered land, and installing permanent boundary pillars in the rivers, the government has taken a mega plan to dredge the country’s rivers, the state minister said.

Once the project is implemented, Khalid said, passenger-friendly river routes will be created in the country and the nature of the rivers will be restored.

12,396 illegal structures removed

The government has so far removed about 12,396 illegal structures from port areas of Buriganga, Turag and Balu rivers, and 372.12 acres of riverbank grabbed earlier were also recovered, the state minister said while responding to a tabled question placed by ruling party lawmaker Md Israfil Alam of Noagaon-6 constituency.

Khalid said the government has also removed 2,779 illegal structures from the port area of Shitalakhya River, while 194 acres of occupied riverbanks were recovered.

As per the election manifesto of the government, he said, it has also demolished about 4,000 illegal structures and recovered 600 acres of occupied river area, aiming to develop river routes and restore the environment in four rivers surrounding Dhaka – Buriganga, Turag, Balu and Shitalakhya.

Major river ports to get CCTV cameras

The state minister also informed the House that the government plans to install CCTV cameras in all major river ports of the country to ensure the security of waterway passengers.

“CCTV cameras have already been installed at the Sadarghat terminal in Dhaka considering the security of passengers,” Khalid Mahmud said, while responding to  another starred question placed by ruling party lawmaker Md Afzal Hossain of Kishoreganj-5 constituency.

Noting that the government has a plan to modernize all the country’s river ports to increase the level of services for waterway passengers, Khalid said CCTV cameras will be installed at all important river ports gradually.

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